I can see how owning a gun can make some people feel safe. I mean, it is a device used to kill. Sure some people just like to show off their guns. They never use them. They store them in their locked closets (if they’re responsible) or leave them in their night table drawer (if they’re irresponsible). They may take them out on occasion to shine them up, maybe show them off to their friends. Maybe play Russian Roulette with it. Maybe try to impress their kid and their kid’s friends with it. Maybe one day the kid will find it and shoot themselves. And I know there are some who actually do use guns for hunting or sporting.
The recent Parkland school shooting and constant calls for gun reform/control got me thinking about the Second Amendment and what it means. I figured since so many gun enthusiasts live and die by this very statement, maybe it should be analyzed to better understand it. So that’s what I did.
The Second Amendment reads:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.
I may be missing it, but I don’t see anywhere in these 27 words where it says it’s okay for individuals to own assault rifles and use them to kill innocent people.
These 27 words were written long before our time. Many people have taken it upon themselves to interpret these 27 words to mean whatever they want them to mean or feel they should mean.
So, what do these 27 words really mean?
In turning to my handy-dandy Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “regulated” can mean:
- to govern or direct according to rule
- to bring under the control of law or constituted authority
- to make regulations for or concerning
- to bring order, method, or uniformity to
- to fix or adjust the time, amount, degree, or rate of
Using the word “well” before “regulated” could mean that the regulation would be carefully considered and formed.
The “regulated” that they are referring to is a “Militia”, which is, by definition:
- a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
- a body of citizens organized for military service
- the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service
I’d like to point out that in all those definitions, “militia” has something to do with the “military”.
“being necessary”: basically, absolutely necessary
“to the security”: basically, to the freedom from fear, freedom from fear or anxiety
“of a free State”: this could mean one of many things:
- a mode or condition of being (being in a free state);
- a body of persons constituting a special class in a society; a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory; especially : one that is sovereign
- the political organization of such a body of people
- the operations or concerns of the government of a country
- one of the constituent units of a nation having a federal government
- The United States of America
- a government or politically organized society having a particular character
“the right of the people” – “right”:
- being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper
- conforming to facts or truth
“people” – this one word, I think, is what is most interpreted or misinterpreted. When the Second Amendment was written and they used the word “people”, who, exactly, were they referring to? If we go by definition, “people” means: human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest. Were they actually referring to “the militia” when saying “people”? Interpretation could’ve changed so much if, instead of “people” they simply wrote in “the militia” again.
- to retain in one’s possession or power
- to refrain from granting, giving, or allowing
- to have in control
“bear” – usually a brown, furry animal; for this statement: to carry
“arms” – those appendages hanging from your shoulders; for this statement: weapons and ammunition
“infringed” – to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another
Considering the Second Amendment was written in 1791, not too long after America fought for independence, I can understand the statement “a well regulated militia”. They were very used to militias at this time. The militia, or military, was, after all, formed for protection. That’s why they wrote the next phrase “being necessary to the security of a free State”. But this is referring back to “the militia”. I really think they (the militia) are “the people” being referred to in this statement. If it was meant to refer to “everyone” why not use the word “individuals”? After all, “people” can mean men, women and children. Would the Founding Fathers have given guns to babies?
The word “infringed” intrigues me: “…to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. Yes, the right to own and carry a gun shall not be infringed. The definition of “infringed” mentions violating the law or the rights of another. To “not be infringed”, as defined by the Second Amendment, wouldn’t that mean to not violate the law or the rights of another? Especially the rights of another, since not everybody obeys the law?
It’s time that America gets their heads out of their asses. If other civilized countries can, why can’t we? Because we’re money hungry and in bed with the NRA? For many of us, more than likely.
With each new mass shooting, whether it be at a school, church, concert, nightclub, etc., we must ask ourselves: what’s it going to take to say enough is enough? It may take a “militia” to storm Capitol Hill, breaking their security system and gun down Congress to make them wake up.
Even then I’m not sure that would work.